There is No Such Thing As ‘Having it All’ So Quit Asking Women About It


Salon writer Mary Elizabeth Williams wants people to stop asking working moms about “having it all” — and  she wants women to stop answering

Let’s rewind a bit.

It all started with Facebook executive Margaret Gould Stewart‘s opinion piece in USA Today last Friday. In it, Stewart bemoans the obsession with the fertility of female executive, corporate figures and general managers in the workplace.

“When the venue is a tech conference, let’s talk about tech, for goodness sake. Making motherhood a required topic for women leaders minimizes their contributions to the industry…. It minimizes my expertise and accomplishments and those of my fellow women tech leaders.” she  writes in the piece, suggesting one option for conference moderators.  “As I see it, you have two choices: you can either ask everyone these questions about their private lives and their role as a parent, or you should ask no one.”

And the impetus for her column was witnessing a session at the Fortune Brainstorm conference when the interviewer on stage mentioned that the CEO of YouTube Susan Wojcicki, who was being interviewed, just had her fifth child.  He then tells the audience to give her applause for that but didn’t ask them to give praise for her series of accomplishments he rattled off before talking about her children.

“The first four minutes of a 21-minute interview with the person some call the most influential woman in the industry was focused on parenting and pregnancy,” Stewart recalls.

She ends it with a series of pleas to PR people, Conference organizers and moderators to stick to the script, essentially, and not focus on the “work/life balance” so much for female execs in high ranking positions.

TV Producer and creator of wildly popular shows like Scandal  Shonda Rhimes co-signed on Stewart’s article by retweeting it with the comment, “THIS!”

And seeing that, Williams was inspired to write her piece which says that there is no such a thing as having it all.  In fact, that’s what she called it, “Stop asking working moms about “having it all” — and women, stop answering.”

She suggest that the question is really just a means of telling women that they shouldn’t strive for the pinnacles of success in the workplace.

“They’re supposed to come up short and serve as cautionary tales of what happens when women want things, especially things in addition to babies…” Williams wraps up the post.

Love it and couldn’t agree more. Check out her entire column Here!

I’m not in the corporate world, but I am an entrepreneur and run my own business and people ask me all the time “how do I do it.” And the answer always is because I love what I do, but as to having it all- Negative.

When you pour your all into your children, you cannot focus on your relationship with your spouse as much. When you are spending late nights at work or on travel constantly, then you miss important moments in your kid’s life.

I am a mess and as much as I give advice on how to keep it together, I am a far way from having all my ish together my darn self.

Scurrying out the house and in between meets and practices and games and school events and managing my media company and blogging and attending  networking functions and events I cover when I’m freelancing and working on a few clients work, I find I’ve lost myself and don’t have time to enjoy each moment.  

I show up late often and get overwhelmed with all the due dates and everything coming at me at once.

Thus, it is true that there is no such a thing as “having it all” but that shouldn’t stop women from doing what they want, striving to the highest achievement or taking a path less traveled…with or without kids.


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